Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Is Ministry Leadership Different? - Leader's Insight: Is Ministry Leadership Different?

Interesting article featuring comments from Pastor Andy Stanley and Jim Collins, author of Good to Great.

I'm a fan of Collins' words on leadership, but definitely not a fan of the corporate mega-church fad.

In the article, Andy Stanley says:

"One of the criticisms I get is 'Your church is so corporate...' And I say, 'Ok, you're right. Now why is that a bad model?"

Here's why:

* Church is not business. They have fundamentally different purposes: business exists primarily to make money; churches exist to reflect the character of God. Sure, they overlap - you can have a business that also reflects aspects of God's character if it's run well, and you can have a prosperous church, but it's harmful to confuse the primary purpose of the two.

* People are crying out for a church that supports them in doing what God has called them to do - being salt of the earth, wherever they find themselves - rather than being cajoled, pushed and pulled into various administrative positions to maintain the machinery that is 'church', while making those who aren't 'serving the Lord in full time ministry' feel less spiritual.

* Businesses of necessity have to have a strong brand identity to differentiate themselves in the marketplace. A church should be very careful about their own brand. Nothing should be more important to us than our Lord Jesus. He's the one that gives us our identity, we don't have to go creating our own religious brand.

* Businesses are goal-oriented, both short-term and long-term. People are paid to work in businesses toward these goals. I believe churches should not be goal-oriented. Yes that's right; I know that flies in the face of much current teaching but I have thought about this over many years. Churches should aim not to do but to be - to be a facilitator for the fantastic potential God has given individuals and groups of people within the church. Trying to channel everything through 'church' leads to wasted resources and burnout among the leadership.

So what am I saying? It's not that churches can't learn anything from the business world, but they have to have a relevant, contemporary AND biblical understanding of what church is for. And I believe that is to equip God's people for works of service - and releasing them into it. So that means flatter management structures, looser structures altogether, and a laser-sharp focus on the church's reason for being.

On the one hand this should take the pressure off pastors, I mean elders. They don't have to do everything or be some visionary who's going to change the world.

On the other hand it introduces different pressures for ministers. They have to be very emotionally aware of their people, and available to them. I guess what I'm talking about is the old idea of a vicar.

I see true pastoring in our pastors at theSanctuary, Luke and Marieta. I've never heard them talk about Vision with a capital V, or going out and changing the world. Instead, their actions speak very loudly when they recognise us laggards, who only attend once every three months, and still welcome us with open arms. When they know their people by name and always have an encouraging word that's not generic, but specific to that person.

Sad to say, this is the first time in my life I've seen genuine pastors like that. May there be more in our time, Lord.


marsh said...

Thanks for a thoughtful and insightful post. YOu are a gifted writer.


Simon said...

Thanks Marsh, I really appreciate that! Thank God for the gifts he gives us.